Food, fun and friendship in Phoenix
Phoenix Mercury teammates Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi are two of the most famous women's basketball players in the world. But that doesn't necessarily mean their lives are an open book.
Ages: 22 (Griner) and 31 (Taurasi)
Birthplaces: Houston and Chino, Calif.
Siblings: DeCarlo, Shkera and Pier; Jessika
Twitter followers: 48,914 and 21,350 (and counting)
Fifteen things you don't know about Brittney Griner and Diana "Dee" Taurasi:
1. Griner drinks Red Bull and rocks out to Jimi Hendrix before games.
2. Taurasi speaks Spanish fluently: Her father, Mario, was born in Italy and raised in Argentina; her mom, Liliana, is a native Argentinian.
3. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and Size 17 sneakers, Griner became the first player to dunk twice in the WNBA in her debut.
4. Taurasi once got a Japanese straightening perm with longtime friend and two-time WNBA champion Sue Bird.
5. Griner appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine with a massive snake draped around her neck. She owns two albino corn snakes -- Audii and Sage -- and is in the market for a Yorkie or a Pomeranian. (May we suggest separate cages.)
6. Kobe Bryant has dubbed Taurasi "The White Mamba."
7. Bullying and teasing over Griner's sexual orientation has been a constant in her life, but she rises above the haters. Recognized as a game changer for coming out so proudly, Nike recently signed her to a multiyear endorsement deal, which will feature the bow tie aficionado in men's clothing. "We can't get into specifics," said one Nike spokesperson, "but it's safe to say we jumped at the opportunity to work with her because she breaks the mold."
8. There is an eggplant parmigiana dish named after Taurasi at UConn coach Geno Auriemma's Fast Break restaurant at Mohegan Sun. Admits Diana, "I'm delicious."
9. On the lower right side of Griner's back is a tattoo of two skulls -- one happy, one sad -- with the words, "laugh now, cry later."
10. Taurasi hit 6,000 career points during an August victory over the Tulsa Shock.
11. Back in April, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he would consider drafting Griner (which he didn't do) and would have no hesitation inviting her to summer league camp. In June, the Harlem Globetrotters made her one of their five picks (Griner declined). The WNBA playoffs are up next, and after that, she plans to play in China during the offseason.
13. Bacon makes everything better: Griner, a pork enthusiast, has said if she had it her way, she would throw down a pack of bacon a day. "I could probably eat a pound of bacon at a time," she once told HOOP magazine. "I have an obsession with bacon. I love it. I crave it. If I smell it, I just forget everything. I was doing an interview in the press room downstairs, and they were making BLT sandwiches and my nose just started flaring. I told the reporter, 'I'm sorry, but is someone making bacon?!'" Her girlfriend once made her a bouquet of bacon roses.
14. In celebration of X-Factor naming Taurasi its Favorite Mercury Player of All-Time, and as she geared up for her 10th year with the team earlier this year, PhoenixMercury.com launched a weekly tribute series called, "A Decade of Diana," reliving her 10 Mercury highlights.
15. Taurasi and Griner are buds, with Taurasi having more of a maternal, mentoring role. She described her younger teammate to USA Today this way: "There's something to be said about being comfortable in your own skin. That's an incredible trait to have. She's not trying to be anyone she's not. She's not trying to be an actress, she's not trying to be a rapper. She's Brittney Griner, who plays basketball at the highest level, and off the court can get along with anyone."